Gillian Turnbull

MFA Mentor

Gillian Turnbull Gillian Turnbull

BA (Hons.) (U. Calgary); MA (U. Alberta); MFA (King’s); PhD (York U.)

Gillian is the author of Sonic Booms: Making Music in an Oil Town. She holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from York University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College. She is a writer and editor and has worked in the music and broadcast industries. A frequent contributor to The Walrus, The National Post, and Hazlitt, Gillian has also written for The Puritan, VUE Weekly, BC Musician, Penguin Eggs, and No Depression. Her work on No Depression, where she was the Toronto correspondent for five years, features interviews with some of Canada’s best-known musicians. Gillian is also the former editor of Canadian Folk Music and former editorial assistant for MUSICultures, and has served on multiple music industry and academic society boards.

Gillian’s work has been featured on the CBC Radio program Ideas and in documentaries on roots and country music, including the PBS American Masters feature Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl. She is the former host of radio programs in Edmonton and Toronto. Gillian is a Canada Council Award and Chalmers Development Grant recipient.

Her music industry work includes venue programming, music criticism and festival work. She is the co-founder of the popular Wide Cut Weekend roots music festival in Calgary. She teaches pop music and culture courses at Ryerson University, where she oversees the Music Minor and new course development.

Selected Publications


  • Sonic Booms: Making Music in an Oil Town. Eternal Cavalier Press, 2019.
  • No Repression: Writings on Roots Music in the Post-Journalism Age. Graincar Books, 2016.
  • Grassland Sounds: Popular and Folk Musics of the Canadian Prairies, co-edited with Geoff Whittall. Under consideration with University of Toronto Press.



Urban music scenes, biographical writing, the intersections of fiction and nonfiction, and elevating women’s voices in pop culture criticism.